Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Cultural Achievement Award
The American Council for Polish Culture awarded me their Cultural Achievement Award at their national convention recently, and I want to thank again the ACPC for bestowing this honor and Polish American Arts Association President Eliza Wojtaszek and the PAAA Board of Directors for supporting my nomination.
The award is sitting on my desk right now, and here's what it says: “In recognition of his poetry which has given the Polish Community in America a strong and clear literary voice.”
That sentiment means a lot to me because I feel that the voice that's being honored by the ACPC isn't just my voice. It's in part my father's voice. He could never stop talking about his love for Poland and what happened to him in Germany in the slave labor camps, and much of what I say in my poems comes from his strong and clear voice.
My voice is also my mother's voice. She seldom spoke about those years before the war and during the war, but I hear her silence and grief throughout my poems.
What I want to do in my poems is to give my parents and their experiences a voice. They had very little education. My father never went to school and could barely write his name. My mother had two years of formal education. I felt that I had to tell the stories they would have written if they could. For the last thirty years, I have been writing poems about their lives, and I sometimes think that I am not only writing about their lives, but also about the lives of all those forgotten, voiceless refugees, DPs, and survivors that the last century produced.
So, dear American Council for Polish Culture, thank you again.
In the above photo, Bernadette Wiermanski has just presented me with the award.